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Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Or is it some more humble lay,
Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
Long after it was heard no more.
YARROW UNVISITED. 1803.
[See the various poems the scene of which is laid upon the banks of the Yarrow; in particular, the exquisite ballad of Hamilton, beginning—
'Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny, bonny Bride,
Busk ye, busk ye, my winsome Marrow!']
From Stirling's castle we had seen
Had trod the banks of Clyde, and Tay,
'Let Yarrow folk, frae Selkirk town,
On Yarrow's banks let herons feed,
But we will downwards with the Tweed,
'There's Galla Water, Leader Haughs,
And Dryborough, where with chiming Tweed
There's pleasant Tiviot-dale, a land
Made blithe with plough and harrow:
'What's Yarrow but a river bare,
There are a thousand such elsewhere
As worthy of your wonder.'
-Strange words they seemed of slight and scorn;
My True-love sighed for sorrow;
And looked me in the face, to think
I thus could speak of Yarrow !
'Oh! green,' said I, 'are Yarrow's holms,
And sweet is Yarrow flowing!
Fair hangs the apple frae the rock1,
But we will leave it growing.
O'er hilly path, and open strath,
But, though so near, we will not turn
'Let beeves and home-bred kine partake
The sweets of Burn-mill meadow;
Float double, swan and shadow !
1 See Hamilton's ballad, as above.
'Be Yarrow stream unseen, unknown! It must, or we shall rue it;
We have a vision of our own;
Ah! why should we undo it?
The treasured dreams of times long past,
'If Care with freezing years should come,
Should we be loath to stir from home,
Should life be dull, and spirits low,
"Twill soothe us in our sorrow,
That earth has something yet to show,
TO THE CUCKOO.
O blithe New-comer! I have heard,
I hear thee and rejoice.
O Cuckoo shall I call thee Bird,
While I am lying on the grass
Thy twofold shout I hear,
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off, and near.
Though babbling only to the Vale,
Thou bringest unto me a tale
Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring!
Even yet thou art to me
No bird, but an invisible thing,
A voice, a mystery ;
The same whom in my school-boy days I listened to; that Cry
Which made me look a thousand ways
To seek thee did I often rove
And I can listen to thee yet;
Can lie upon the plain
That golden time again.
O blessed Bird! the earth we pace
Again appears to be
An unsubstantial, faery place :
That is fit home for Thee!
AT THE GRAVE oF BURNS. 1803.
(Seven Years after his Death.)
I shiver, Spirit fierce and bold,
At thought of what I now behold:
As vapours breathed from dungeons cold
So sadness comes from out the mould
And have I then thy bones so near,
As if it were thyself that's here
And both my wishes and my fear
Off weight-nor press on weight!-away Dark thoughts!-they came, but not to stay; With chastened feelings would I pay
The tribute due
To him, and aught that hides his clay
Fresh as the flower, whose modest worth
Doth glorify its humble birth
With matchless beams.
The piercing eye, the thoughtful brow,
Slept, with the obscurest, in the low
I mourned with thousands, but as one
How Verse may build a princely throne
Alas! where'er the current tends,
By Skiddaw seen,—
Neighbours we were, and loving friends
True friends though diversely inclined; But heart with heart and mind with mind, Where the main fibres are entwined,
Through Nature's skill,
May even by contraries be joined
More closely still.